The Art of Strengths Coaching

P is for People Who Have Perspective

There are many ways to live life. Some people aim to be positive, follow their principles and maintain a sense of perspective

Such people often take time to reflect and focus on what is important in life. They aim to do their personal best yet also recognise they are small in the great sweep of history.

Some sages take this approach. They seem to be skipping with joy and yet can also be serious. They can sometimes be a bit mischievous and have a generous sense of humour. Desmond Tutu, The Dalai Lama and Maya Angelou have embodied this approach.

Such people seem to recognise both their significance and insignificance in the great order of things. They recognise the need to be kind, encouraging and generous during their time on Earth.

At the same time, they recognise their own life is short. There have been billions of people before them and there will be billions after them. All they can do is try to make a positive contribution during their time on the planet.

Looking back on your life, can you think of somebody who has demonstrated a sense of perspective? This could be somebody you have known or somebody you have heard about.

They may have shown these qualities in their daily life or when facing a crisis. What did they do to be positive, follow their principles and maintain a sense of perspective?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites to complete the following sentences.

Positive

People who develop a sense of perspective are often positive realists. They have a positive attitude but are also good at reading reality.Here are some of the things they do to stay positive.

They have a sense of gratitude … They count their blessings rather than their burdens … They choose their attitude each day … They focus on controlling the controllables … They do things that give them positive energy – such as walking, gardening, playing their favourite music or doing other activities … They are generous and kind. 

They build on their strengths … They learn how to manage the consequences of their weaknesses … They do satisfying work … They help other people to achieve success … They get the right blend between wellbeing, work and wealth … They aim to make a positive contribution.

They spend time with positive people … They serve something greater than themselves – such as a spiritual belief or a sense of vocation … They follow the principles they believe in … They keep creating a sense of purpose – such as doing stimulating projects or aiming to leave a positive legacy.

Building on these themes, let’s consider how they take the next step.

Principles

People who develop a sense of perspective often follow the principles they believe in. They then aim to express these in both personal and professional situations. The Dalai Lama says, for example:

“My religion is kindness.”

He tries to express kindness in his daily life when communicating with people, giving television interviews and doing other activities. He keeps focusing on the core drivers in his life.

Many individuals take a similar approach to defining their inner compass and becoming more centred. They start by clarifying the principles they want to follow in their life and work. Sometimes this takes time, but people eventually settle on the guidelines they want to follow.

These principles become the compass they keep returning to when making decisions or rehearsing what they are going to do next. They then aim to express these principles in personal and professional situations.

Imagine you want to take this approach. One way is to start by clarifying the principles you want to follow. Here are some answers that people give when focusing on this theme. 

I want …

To continue to be grateful … To enjoy life … To be kind … To encourage people … To create beauty … To show people a better way … To enable people to succeed … To help to build a better world. 

How to express these principles in your daily life? You can look ahead and plan how to follow these principles in the specific personal or professional situation. You can do this by focusing on the following themes.

The principles I want
to follow in my life are:

* 

The specific things I can to do follow these
principles in the specific personal or
professional situation that I am going into are: 

*

* 

*

Looking ahead, you can rehearse how to follow the principles. You can then go into the situation, be fully present and do your best to follow your chosen route.

Emerging from the situation, you can gain strength by returning to your centre. You can pause and take time to relax, reflect and refocus. You can then rehearse how you can follow their principles in the next situation.

People who take this approach see every day as a chance to follow their principles. This gives them the opportunity to achieve success every day.

Some people aim to keep following their principles and do not worry about the prizes. They aim to be true to their values and do their personal best.

This does not mean that they do not work towards achieving specific goals. They may aim to perform well in sports, pitch for business or work to build a more peaceful world.

Some people spend time worrying about getting the prize. They worry about whether or not they will get promotion, gain status or be seen as successful. This can lead to them straining, tightening up and failing to do their best.

Such people can become captivated by prizes. A person may feel that everything will change if, for example, they win a golf tournament, get promotion or win a lottery. They may find, however, that the prize captures them.

Certainly some things may change, but some things will remain the same. They may get more opportunities, but they will still be the same person. They may need to learn how to use the prize rather than let the prize use

Some people keep following their principles and, as a by-product, also get prizes. The real prize for them, however, is following their principles each day. They are then more likely to experience a sense of peace.

Perspective

Some people aim to do their personal best yet also have a sense of perspective. Some great workers, for example, are serious about their work but do not take themselves too seriously.

Paradoxically, this can free them to do even better work. One person explained this in the following way.

“The work is important, but I am not important.”

Different people develop a sense of perspective in different ways. Here are some of the approaches they may take.

Each person will take their own path towards developing this awareness. Here are some events that may influence the route they take.

A person may experience vulnerabilities – such as illnesses or difficulties. Vulnerability can be a great teacher. This may help them to realise what is really important in life.

A person may experience a sense of wonder when being fully present in nature, seeing beauty or having a life-changing epiphany. This may help them to appreciate life or marvel at the wonders of the universe.

A person may learn from great teachers or great books that pass on wisdom. They may also study the human qualities that are most admired across many cultures – such as kindness. This may help them to follow these principles in their own life.

A person may experience living in many different cultures. This may help them to see things from different angles and respect that there are many ways to live life.

A person may learn to empathise with people and many living things. This may help them to develop compassion and the desire to care for people and the planet.

A person may learn to see successes and setbacks in the great scheme of things. This may help them to build on their strengths, see the big picture and do their best to find solutions to challenges.

A person may develop the ability to appreciate the beauty of life and see every day as a bonus. This may help them to be positive, follow their principles and have a sense of perspective.

People who develop such awareness may also be systems thinkers. They see the big picture and how things are connected. They recognise that the choices we make have consequences – both for ourselves and other people.

Some see the world as a whole system. They believe the actions we take in one part of the world can affect the living system in another part of the world.

Kevin Kelly’s book The Home Planet mirrors this view. He collected the views of astronauts who had seen the Earth from afar. Here is one quote from Sultan bin Salman Al Saud.

Let’s return to your own life and work. Imagine that you want to develop a sense of perspective. How can you do this in your own way?

As mentioned before, some people aim to be positive and also follow their principles. This helps them to focus on what is important in life and stay calm in challenging situations.

Every person is different, however, and develops their own approach to seeing the big picture. You will develop your own way.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe the specific things you can do to maintain a sense of perspective. 

Describe the specific benefits of maintaining a sense of perspective.

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>